UC Berkeley Extension alumnus living in allegedly bedbug-infested building owned by Raj Properties

Heather Feibleman/Staff

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A building of housing units owned by Raj Properties is allegedly infested with bedbugs.

Andrei Gadson, a member of the Cal Alumni Association, is a resident of the building, which is located at 2057 University Ave. Gadson, 62, has lived in the building since 2013, before Raj Properties purchased the property. Gadson said he first found bedbugs in November 2016, and he alleged that several other tenants also had bedbug infestations in their units.

“I’ve been getting bitten up every day — it’s all over my neck. It’s gruesome,” Gadson said. “I have asthma. I have a stent in my artery. I have certain medical conditions and can’t be running around like a 22-year-old by moving out of my room and moving everything around.”

Gadson alleged that although Raj Properties promised to exterminate the bedbugs by January, his room was not sprayed by RidX Pest Control until Feb. 17. He alleged that the property owners said Feb. 22 that there were no more problems, even though they had yet to conduct a final spraying. Raj Properties did spray his room again Feb. 28, but Gadson said there are still bedbugs in his unit.

Veronica Velasquez, officer manager for Raj Properties, declined to comment on the allegations.

Raj Properties has faced controversy in the past, most notably when Lakireddy Bali Reddy, whose family owns the company, was convicted of sex trafficking in 2001.

Gadson’s doctor John Mendelson wrote a letter March 2, in which he confirmed that Gadson had symptoms associated with bedbugs, diagnosing him with dermatitis — a condition where the skin becomes red, swollen and sore.

“I reviewed his skin findings and the photos he provided. The rash is consistent with bedbugs and the photos document bedbugs,” Mendelson said in his letter. “(Gadson’s) dermatitis has not progressed to a severe infection requiring hospitalization, but there is a real risk of worse outcomes if his infestation is not addressed.”

In addition to the bedbugs, Gadson alleged that two out of the four bathrooms in the building are broken and that Raj Properties still has not fixed them. The bathrooms were ordered to be fixed Jan. 16, but two are still out of order, Gadson alleged.

Raj Properties emailed Gadson on Feb. 22, stating that it could not provide Gadson with a new room during the bed bug treatment, as it could not “risk having the bedbugs contaminating another room.”

But March 20, Raj Properties offered to move Gadson into another room. Gadson said his lawyer, however, advised him not to accept the offer because the whole building is allegedly infested, so if Gadson moved units and bedbugs appeared in that new room, he could potentially be held liable.

Gadson said he is on a fixed income and could not afford to move units. He is currently still living in his bedbug-infested room.

“There was no better location for the money,” he said. “I could not afford to move — the same room now would go for much more somewhere else.”

Gadson said he had a hearing in front of the Rent Stabilization Board in January and that the board will likely reopen his case in June.

Nick Traylor, division manager for the rent board, said he did not have the information for Gadson’s specific case. He added, however, that even if tenants or outsiders bring bedbugs into the building, it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix the problem.

“The tenant does have the right to fight the landlord for code violation,” Traylor said. “That’s a useful way of compelling a landlord, because then the city would give the landlord a deadline to fix the problem, and if they don’t, then they would face a fine from the city.”

Contact Jessíca Jiménez at [email protected] and and follow her on Twitter at @jesscajimenez_dc.